In a 2022 study from the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge, defence lawyers reported that half of their autistic clients were not treated as ‘vulnerable adults’ despite the law recognising them as such.

In addition, half were not provided with the required ‘appropriate adult’ to safeguard their rights, and only 25% received reasonable adjustments.

Funded by the Autism Research Trust, this research is the beginning of a process that will lead to improvements for autistic people across the criminal justice system. The Autism Centre of Excellence at Cambridge will continue this vital work, working with partner organisations to apply these learnings, to develop best practice in reasonable adjustments, and help ensure the criminal justice system is autism-friendly. 

Our research clearly shows that autistic adults are not receiving fair treatment within the criminal justice system. Without reasonable adjustments or support, this could place them at a significant disadvantage.

Dr Rachel Slavny-Cross


Interested in being a criminal justice partner?

If you are part of an organisation at any stage within the criminal justice system, and are interested in learning about how to best support autistic people, please contact us >

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The Autism Centre of Excellence at Cambridge (ACE) translates world-class autism research into evidence-based best practice, delivered via partnerships, so that autistic people and their families get excellent support. Will you help?

About Us

The Autism Centre of Excellence at Cambridge (ACE) is a science-led campaigning charity working closely with Cambridge University’s Autism Research Centre. Our aim is to improve access to high quality support and remove barriers and stigma for autistic people.

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